The Role of Work Group in Individual Sickness Absence Behavior

A. Vaananen, N. Tordera, M. Kivimaki, Anne Kouvonen, J. Pentti, A. Linna, J. Vahtera

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of our two-year follow-up study was to examine the effect of the social components of the work group, such as group absence norms and cohesion, on sickness absence behavior among individuals with varying attitudes toward work attendance. The social components were measured using a questionnaire survey, and data on sickness absence behavior were collected from the employers' records. The study population consisted of 19,306 Finnish municipal employees working in 1,847 groups (78% women). Multilevel Poisson regression modeling was applied. The direct effects of work group characteristics on sickness absence were mostly insignificant. In contrast, both of the social components of a work group had an indirect impact: The more tolerant the group absence norms (at both individual- and cross-level) and the lower the group cohesion (at the individual level), the more the absence behavior of an individual was influenced by his or her attitude toward work attendance. We conclude that work group moderates the extent to which individuals with a liberal attitude toward work attendance actually engage in sickness absence behavior.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)452-467
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Social Psychology


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